Like a bridge over troubled water: Wellbeing and trust in governance during turbulent times

Eran Vigoda-Gadot, Zehavit Levitats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic extended interest in the relationships between citizens and governments in turbulent times of crises and emergencies. While the pandemic generated a critical existential threat to the lives of many, it also had a significant effect on the quality of life and on the wellbeing of even larger populations. This paper deals with the relationship between the wellbeing of citizens and three types of trust in governance (i.e. trust in political institutions, trust in public administration, trust in enforcement institutions) during the pandemic. We aim at advancing knowledge on both wellbeing and trust during crises, and more specifically on direct and indirect patterns of these important relationships. To do so, we suggest alternative models and a series of hypotheses aimed at examining them empirically. Two datasets on Israeli citizens are used. They were collected over two points in time during the heat of the pandemic and toward its decline and end (Study 1/t1; N = 1026 and Study 2/t2; N = 3024) and largely represent major sectors and ethnicities in the population. The findings generally support a positive relationship between wellbeing and trust, but more importantly indicate that during crisis, trust in public administration and enforcement institutions mediates the relationship between wellbeing and trust in political institutions. We thus argue that the public service may act as a bridge between citizens’ wellbeing and political trust. In our view, the findings testify to the complexity of the wellbeing–trust relationship, especially in challenging times. Implications and directions for future studies are suggested. Points for practitioners: Trust in governance is different for various political institutions and for different public administration organizations, especially in turbulent times Civil servants should be aware of citizens’ wellbeing during crises as it affects trust in governance Citizen trust and wellbeing are significantly related in times of emergency and crises.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

Keywords

  • COVID 19
  • crisis
  • governance
  • Trust
  • wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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